A little-known fact about Rob and I: we are aspiring singer-songwriters. Scratch the aspiring – we ARE singer-songwriters. We can make almost any household situation into a song. And the more frustrating the scenario, the more inspired the tune.
Most compositions are created spontaneously yet flow from deep within. Our talents know no boundaries, as far as genre: we can do Broadway, Opera, Folk, Country Western. For example, one of our greatest hits is a Hymn about pencils, the lyrics of which I am about to share. They are meant to be sung with utmost seriousness, lots of lament, and an almost monk-like solemnity. (Don’t forget to be a little off-key):
Where do all the pencils go?
I really really really don’t know.
Some say to and some say fro —
But I, I really don’t know…
We would share the music video of this masterpiece, but we fear that it might be too beautiful for you to bear. I will, however, share the history on The Pencil Song. You might be surprised to discover that it was composed on a day when I… could not find a pencil. In other words, a typical day in the life of Jocelyn. I own several, maybe hundreds, maybe tens of thousands of these yellow barrel Paper Mate Sharpwriter pencils. And yet. I can never find one.
You are correct to surmise that I prefer to write with pencils because I have a fear of commitment. (I like this particular type because they are always sharp and I guess I enjoy that quick little flick of the wrist you have to perform with your other hand in order to twist more lead from the tip.) Mostly, it makes me feel better to know that whatever I write can be immediately erased, if need be. I only reach for pens in order to sign checks or to write out birthday cards (which are usually messy botch-jobs.) Otherwise, I always use a pencil. That is, when I can FIND one.
I probably take them out into the world and I lose them. They get wedged between the couch cushions. They fall under my seat in the car. Sometimes I find about ten of them huddling together mischievously in the bottom of my shoulder bag. The rest? Who knows? But always, when I want to use one, there is a lengthy search. Of course accompanied by The Song.
So you can imagine my delight when I discovered that there was something called a “pencil cactus.”
I first saw one in the window of Belkind Bigi, a dreamy antique store in nearby Tarrytown, NY that offers mid-century modern furniture. If you are into this kind of design, I invite you to fawn over their website:
This store is where, many moons ago, I saw my first arc lamp. And where, more recently, I purchased the ottoman now sitting in our library/book nook.
Then on a trip to San Francisco, I spotted another pencil cactus in the same type of mid-century modern furniture store. So when I spied one in our local Home Depot, sitting there all unassuming amid all the other more traditional plants, I nabbed it.
It’s much smaller than the one in Belkind Bigi and also the one we saw out in SF, but we love it nonetheless. A few months ago, this beloved cactus took a turn for the worse: some of its pencils shriveled up and turned brown, giving us yet another reason to sing The Pencil Song. Thankfully, good ol’ Rob of the Green Thumb was able to nurse it back to health by giving it a trim. He also changed its location in order to give it more sun. (After all, it is a cactus.)
It looks a little crowded on our “surfer table,” all squeezed up against the Aloe, but the light streaming into the big picture window makes this a good plant rehab center. (Notice that the polka dotted begonia, nearby to the left, has gone through some not-so-positive changes since I posted about her last.)
At least the cactus is now thriving and he’s even sprouted some new pencils. Too bad I can’t write with them…
Do you have any tips for keeping tabs on your pencils or any tips on keeping a pencil cactus happy and healthy? Any idea why pencil cacti are so often paired with mid-centsch design?